Monday, 6 August 2012


The saga of the boot lid could fill a couple of books all by itself.  To recall.
It was missing along with many other parts when I bought the car back in 2010.  I did eventually acquire one which had had the bottom third of the ash frame replaced, but when offered up to the car, the overall shape was wrong.  I returned it to the supplier along with profiles cut from hardboard showing the exact shape required.  It was duly reworked and returned and a trial fit confirmed that it was now fairly close to being right.
However, close inspection (a little late in the day I will admit) showed that the aluminium skin was secured to the frame in many places by steel nails. Body shop man Alex was less than happy with this and I was sent packing yet again, booted out, boot lid in boot so to speak to find a solution.
Lid No 1    Less than ideal skin, lots of holes and a few nails.
 I allocated a whole day to resolve this and played around carefully removing the steel nails and replacing them with specially made (by me) aluminium pins bonded into the ash with the intention of welding the heads to the skin. After several hours of prating about, it became very clear that I was pissing in the wind (I apologise for the language but it best describes the mood) and went home.
The following day, a Sunday morning I am back with renewed spirit, take afresh look at mess I've made and decide to do something else instead. 
Contemplating the purchase of a complete new lid at circa £3000, I recall a conversation I had about a year back. A friend of a friend said he may have one but it was probably beyond repair. A couple of phone calls and an hour later I'm in the garage of Rob Hind at Sadberge and looking at a rotten wood frame with perfectly good skin.
If I can fit this good skin to my OK-ish frame that might be be the answer.
Lid No 1    As well as repaired bottom frame, steel strips are rusting
Back at the workshop and further investigation indicates that opening up the wrapped around edges of the skin will be difficult.  I try annealing first but can tell that anything more than slightly opening the seam will end in tears.
I eventually manage to remove the rotten frame from the skin and and determine that it should not be beyond my wood crafting skills to fabricate a whole new frame to fit into it rather than use the repaired one.  This massive misjudgement is dealt with in detail in post 29 (Boot Lid abandoned). 
As outlined in this post, after many hours of wood wasting, I eventually find and order up an exact copy of the original frame for £250.  As requested, it is delivered in pieces enabling me to build it into the skin.  I am now back in my comfort zone and work proceeds apace making up new steel strips to screw onto the frame and slip into the aluminium skin.  The frame is temporarily built up with hinges, handle and catches and a trial fit looks promising.

First trial fit of temporarily assembled boot lid frame looks good
Next I need the aluminium trim pieces to fit around the edges and Contour Autocraft come up trumps again with a really good fitting set.
Having established that the frame is fundamentally the correct shape I prime and refit the steel strips, inject Tiger Seal into the folds then assemble the frame into the skin.  Crimping the skin back in place with a special tool borrowed from Alex was very easy, but the addition of the sealant means almost certainly that it will never come apart again. 

Edge crimped onto steel strip and sealed in with Tiger Seal

Ash and softwood laminated frame match the rear end shape exactly

Back to the body shop and Alex tweaks the fit, bashes it around a bit then skims and shapes it before giving it back to me.  All that's left is for me to glue it all together and fit the corner pieces supplied with the frame kit.  Its finally taken back to Alex who is at last satisfied that once painted, it will look perfect and more importantly stay looking perfect.  My final job will be to fit the inner plywood panel but this will be done from underneath with the boot lid fitted, to ensure that no twist occurs. 

Rare view of boot lid from petrol tank location.  Ply panel will
be fitted from here to ensure no twist occurs.
Once screwed in place this adds an unbelievable amount of stiffness to the whole boot lid structure.
Just for fun I tap into our companies small works costing programme for jobs based on time and materials.  I put in my time spent, material costs and associated travelling - three time to Newcastle and twice to Harrogate.  With an hourly rate of £37.60 a nominal overhead cost and mark up it totals up to £3,267.27  There is a moral in there somewhere. 

Miscellany - related topics

Croft Nostalgia Weekend
Preceding the Croft Classic Weekend I was invited to a Press Day along with a few other JDC members to help promote the event.  It turned out to be a thoroughly enjoyable day with plenty of opportunity for track action and quite well organised compared to last year.  BBC regional News gave it a half minute plug in the evening and my 140 appeared for a nano-second at the back of a bunch of cars on the track and a few seconds later at the front - if only!

The Croft Nostalgia event is a fabulous weekend with all the atmosphere and a good deal of the spectacle of the Goodwood Revival, but without the huge crowds. The BRDC have a full programme of classic racing and everyone has access to all areas including the paddock. At £25 for both days its quite a bargain. No doubt it will cost a little more next year.
Set up 1955 Photo I took end of July at Croft Press day

Trailer mounted Rolls Royce Griffin V12 ticking over. Only a couple
of wheel chocks stop it shooting off down the runway when opened up.
Next Post mid August